Introducing Jonathan Tah: A Blend of Athletic Excellence and Entrepreneurial Acumen
Fritz Walter Medal in Gold: A prestigious honor recognizing his outstanding talent in soccer.
International Football Career: Showcased his skills in 21 A-international matches for Germany, demonstrating his prowess on the international stage.
Young Talent in Major Tournaments: At just 20 years old, he was a key part of the squad for the 2016 UEFA European Championship, highlighting his early promise in the sport.
A Pillar at Bayer 04 Leverkusen: With an impressive record of 323 competitive appearances as of December 3, 2023, and still counting, he ranks among the Top 10 players with the most matches played for the club.
Real Estate Mogul: His holding oversees a diverse portfolio of over 650 real estate units, including hotels, kindergartens, and restaurants, showcasing his versatility and success beyond the football field.
Early Beginnings in Real Estate: Ventured into the world of real estate with his first transaction at the age of 21, marking the start of his journey as a savvy entrepreneur.
As we dive into this interview, join us in exploring the journey of Jonathan Tah, a figure who not only shines on the soccer field but also excels in the world of business.
Jonathan Tah: A Journey from Passion to Perseverance - Insights into His Early Days and the Essence of Excellence in Football
Background and Early Career:
Jonathan, you grew up in Hamburg with a father from Ivory Coast and a German mother. Can you share with us when you decided to pursue football professionally? Reflecting on your journey, how would you balance the roles of talent, hard work, and luck in becoming a successful football player?
I decided to pursue football professionally probably already when I was 4 years old because I was so ball addicted. That’s why my mum put me in a football club namend Altona 93 in Hamburg where it all began. I started realizing that I have a real chance to make it when the Hamburger SV took the chance to sign me for their youth academy at the age of 13. At the young age of 17 I was privileged to make my first professional game in the Bundesliga.
I think that talent can help you to become a pro somehow (but sometimes not even that) but for me to be successful in football means to never stagnate and get the best version and the best player out of yourself that you can be. And you will never reach that level without hard work.
You can say talent is your Base-Level so everyone starts already on a different Base-Level but the one who relies only on this talent given Base-Level will be outworked really quick by those who work more and harder.
I don’t think that luck exists in terms of stuff that happens in your life. I believe that you can control a lot more in your life than you might think sometimes but on the other hand I believe that there are certain challenges or coincidences that are meant to happen in your life and the outcome always depends on how you handle that.
Challenges and Resilience:
Football careers are often full of highs and lows. Can you describe some turning points in your life and career? Have there been moments when you felt like giving up, perhaps due to injuries or setbacks? What kept you going during these tough times?
I think you can compare a football career good to a football game. Sometimes you have the ball, sometimes not and you have to defend and suffer. Sometimes it goes fast in the game, sometimes slow. You can take a lot of decisions to influence the game and some decisions are made by others. So that’s how I see a career and also life.
The most important thing is to stay focused on the moment. Don’t think too much about the past or the future. Just focus on the moment and try to put all your energy on that. This energy will come back in a positive way maybe not straight away but if you are consistent it will come. Focus, Consistency&Faith.
The biggest turning points were always when I changed something in my personal life. The right people around you to support you and make you better are crucial. So it was important for me to try different things with different people to see how I can develop best in terms of football. But even more important for me was to surround myself with people who are making my personal life better and this had a huge influence on what I was doing on the pitch.
This sometimes means to leave people behind you and get out of your comfort zone.
Performance and Excellence:
In your opinion, what distinguishes a good athlete from a great one?
You've played a significant number of games with various outcomes. How do you handle the feelings associated with winning and losing, especially in the public eye? Many strive for the 80/20 rule in efficiency, but elite sports often demand finding that last 1% of excellence. How do you manage to push beyond limits consistently?
The difference between a good athlete and a great athlete for me lies in two questions. How much time&energy are you willing to give to strive for the best version of yourself? How long and consistent are you willing to put this effort?
I guess nobody really likes the feeling of losing and prefers winning. But if you look from outside you’ll understand that losing and failing is so important for the process.
I think the focus should not be on winning or losing because if you do that it takes away the energy you need for the present moment. And If you focus on the present moment and not on the outcome you’ll be the winner at the end.
In public eyes losing is something bad so it can have influence on you if you’re not strong enough and confident enough to know what really matters. I guess becoming more mature and creating my own opinion more and more was fundamental to handle those feelings.
I think to set priorities and be disciplined are really important to always push beyond your limits consistently.
Daily Life and Routine:
Could you walk us through a typical day, highlighting your training and preparation routines?
When I wake up at 7:30 am I first get a cold shower, then I put on my clothes and do my meditation/breathing routine. After that I go for a little walk with my dog. When I come back I drink my coffee and write into my Diary.
Then I take time to chat with my wife and drink more coffee
When I arrive at the Trainingground at 9:30 I eat breakfast.
Depending on the day we might have a Theory session so Videoanalyses at 10:30 and after that we prepare ourselves at the Gym with a 20-30 min activation of the body, we work on mobility/flexibility & stability.
After that we go out to the pitch and train ca. 90min.
When the training at the club finishes I’ll shower, eat a Snack and drive to my Personal Training at around 13:45/14:00. Sometimes in the gym, sometimes on the pitch with @PRPerformancecoaching.
The training routine is always the same.
Meditation/Breathing —> Mobility —> Stability —> Special main focus (always depending on the day and what period of the season we’re in) —> cool down.
After that I’ll get my lunch at 15:30/16:00 and go out with my dog for a longer walk in the nature with my wife if our schedule matches.
So after the dog walk I either spend time with my wife, friends or alone or I take care of my business career A day before the game I’ll do my personal Videoanalysis with my team.
I love food and my wife likes to cook so I mostly prefer to eat dinner at home.
In the evening I like to do something meditative before sleeping so reading,meditation or breathing exercises are helping me to cool down and calm down my nervous system to get good&enough sleep.
But I also like to watch movies or football in the evening, wich is probably not calming down my nervous system but its good for my soul
Team Dynamics and Soccer Evolution:
In your experience, what are the key elements of a great soccer team?
How do you see the balance between individual skill and team synergy in football? Football has evolved significantly over the last 50 years. From your perspective, what are the most notable changes?
The most important key element to be successful in my opinion is to have a purpose as a group. This purpose has to stand above all individual goals and aims. Because for me its like in life in general, you can set goals and aim for something but if you don’t even know WHY you want to reach what you re aiming for its not gonna take long for you to give up or find something different. And then in terms of the Team Structure I think its important to look at the characters of the team and use the strengths of each individual to make the team stronger and compensate the weaknesses of each individual player with your structure. This is important on the field but also off the field. For example you cannot have 23 players who are only thinking only about attacking but not defending, easy example but the diversity in a team is what I want to highlight here.
The most notable changes are definitely the level of influence in our society and the physical development of the players because the game is quicker, players are faster and there are more games in total than 50 years ago. So it’s interesting to see how our bodies and brains did evolve and adapt to the game.
The influence on society has different reasons, first is how the media has changed, nowadays there are so many communication channels and platforms for anybody to speak and talk about different topics and obviously also about football that puts a lot of focus on it. And secondly I have the feeling that it’s more expected from the player to be a “role model” of professionalism and seriousness in the society, I guess also because there is more focus and more money in football. So people kind of see that responsibility.
To underline the huge influence on society I want to share the example of Didier Drogba (former pro at Chelsea F.C. and international for Ivory Coast) who influenced the political situation in his country Ivory Coast in the 2000s to speak up for Peace and stop the civil war. Some people say that he was actually the one who stopped the war.
Career Insights and Legacy:
Throughout your career, what lessons have you learned that you wish to pass on to the next generation of players?
Playing for the national team is a significant achievement. How has this experience influenced your career and perspective on the game?
So the first ever lesson I’ve learned was a lesson I understood years later.
When I was a kid my biggest dream was to become a professional footballer. I had so many doubters and haters who didn’t believe that I could make it, who tried to hold me down and get me to small thinking. I was never in doubts about my dream and I knew I was gonna make it, I said that out loud even though they laughed at me.
At the end what got me there was the deep faith and trust in god and myself that I will make it AND the consistency I’ve had. The energy you put out comes back to you.
What I also figured was that the support of the people close to me was really important especially my mum. So the lesson for me is to have people close to you who support and believe in you no matter what. And this should be people who are always honest and straight with you.
Another good lesson I’ve learned in football is that when you’re in a bad situation you can always decide whether you take the responsibility or you put it on somebody else.
As long as you don’t take the responsibility and focus on what YOU can do to change it the situation will not change. That showed me how much impact I have on my well-being.
Playing for the national team has always been a dream aswell. The feeling Is just different and it’s the highest level you can play.
Playing with the 23-27 best players of your country against other countries is amazing and the level of proudness when you where the jersey is even more special then wearing it at a club.
To play at the national team always makes you better because you face different opponents, train with different teammates and different coaches so you’ll get some other ideas and new impulses.
Personal Goals and Investments:
As someone deeply invested in professional sports, where do you focus your financial investments, like your involvement with Robin Capital?
Looking forward, what are your dreams and aspirations? Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I focus my financial investments always on ”Branchen” that catch me and where I can see myself having fun with.
Then I try to find the right people and experts in that Branche to learn from and to understand the Market of this “Branche”.
For me thats the way to be successful because if you focus only on making money and looking for the right investment only to make money you’ll not be as successful as if you try new things, make mistakes, learn and do what you like and enjoy to do.
That’s why I invested in Robin Capital, I appreciate Robin as a person first and second I believe in his skills and ability to make this Fund as successful as it can be. I can feel his love and passion he has for this. That gives me the feeling that my money is good invested and I can learn from him.
My dream is to inspire a lot of people out there to do what they love to do not driven by money or expectations from others.
I want people to understand that they define what success means to them. It’s not defined by anybody else but yourself.
In 20 years I’m 47, first of all I want to have a good relationship with my kids and wife and support them with whatever they want to do in their lives.
I want to live my best life and never stop learning and trying new things. I don’t know if I’m still gonna be aktiv in the football world but my dream is to transport my values to others by living them.